Obligatory February Carter G. Woodson Post- 2023 The History of the Negro Church

It’s February again, which makes it Black History Month where Shaw’s most famous resident, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the father of Black History, gets some recognition. In previous years I’ve reviewed his most famous book, the Mis-Education of the Negro. Please go on over to my post from 2022.

This would even bore poor Bishop Richard Allen

For something a little different for 2023, we’ll look at another book of his, The History of the Negro Church. I did not like this book because it was gawdawful boring. It was informative, but dull. Despite that, it is this month’s book and we’ll look at every stinking chapter. Maybe you too may learn something about the Black church.

This book is Methodist heavy. There are many denominations in American Christianity and a fair number of majority Black churches in more than a handful of those denominations. Woodson does mention the Catholic and Anglican churches but he doesn’t seem to care for them.

I have seen write ups that claim Dr. Woodson was an atheist. His Wikipedia article says he was an “outspoken detractor of the Christian Church.” I don’t really get that from this book. He seems more like an agnostic. He’s not against the Black church, he’s just not impressed with it. In Mis-Education, he spends far more time bad mouthing ‘educated Negroes’ than he does the Christian church. He’s not a believer but he seems okay with those who are, to a point. In this book, he sees the churches as a means to an ends and an organizing body of the community he cares about. He’s very interested in the denominations’ approach to slavery and how/if they addressed it and pushed back against it. And that’s why it is Methodist heavy.

Lastly, the book was originally published in 1921 and was his 3rd book. The more notable Mis-Education of the Negro, was published in 1933, long after establishing Negro History Week (which became a month, decades after his death), other achievements, and developing the skill to write for a more general audience.

That Martin Luther King speech I could never seem to locate

It’s Martin Luther King Jr Day so here’s my recycled MLK post.

Around about the early part of the year I go pecking about looking for the speech Rev. Martin Luther King Jr gave in Shaw. And I can never find it when I look. Poster-For-MLK-Parade

Today I was looking for a 1957 Church survey for a church that was at 1520 3rd St NW. But I can’t find that, but when I was looking for it, guess what I found? Yes, the King speech.

It seems it was part of a newsletter published by MICCO (Model Inner City Community Organization) run by Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy from 812 S St NW, which is New Bethel Baptist Church. As you can see from the above flier, Dr. King had an event in Shaw on March 12, 1967 and the newsletter was published the next day.

DC History Shaw MiccoNews MLK by Mm Inshaw on Scribd

Sorry for the quality of the copy. On the second page the first couple of words in the last 4 lines of the last paragraph are:

city. The
problems of crime
the people there to
that businessmen must

I’ll still look for that church survey…..

I guess a parking lot landed on this. Then a Convention Center. Mt. Vernon Square 1968?

This is supposed to be 8th Street NW looking north. Now, in the background you will see the top of Immaculate Conception Church. However, the little house in the middle of the block with the porch looks, awfully familiar. It makes me think this was mislabeled.

If it wasn’t then this is in Mount Vernon Square and was leveled to make a parking lot. Which then became the current Convention Center.

Any thoughts?

9th and O St NW circa 1968

9th and O Street NW, Washington, DC circa 1968-1969

There are buildings at 9th and O that aren’t in the picture that exist now. Use the O Street Giant turret to orient yourself.


Rando Alley In Shaw- Glick Alley

This is from 1916 and shows Glick Alley which is in Shaw. It was on Square 442, which is between 6th and 7th, R & S Streets and Rhode Island Avenue NW.

Glick Alley, as far as I can tell, no longer exists.No inside plumbing for these Glick Alley homes. As I remember it, the lack of plumbing made something a slum dwelling.

Carter G. Woodson- Mis-Education of the Negro- Chapter 6: The Educated Negro Leaves the Masses

It’s Black History Month, so I am continuing with the series of posts regarding Shaw resident and Father of Black History, Carter G. Woodson and his book The Mis-Education of the Negro, published in 1933. Don’t let the title fool you this is about church.

Religion is but religion, if the people live up to the faith they profess.- Carter G. Woodson

Wikipedia uses as a citation for the claim that Woodson was an outspoken critic of the Christian Church a site that provides no deep research to back up that claim. Woodson was an expert in the subject of the Black church, having had written The History of the Negro Church, published in 1921. I’m attempting to get through this book. It isn’t as easy of a read as Mis-Education.

What little I’ve read, I see him more of an agnostic, maybe light atheist. Like modern atheists who see a general value of a theologically based society (preferably Christian) but who do not believe in a deity. Not the fire breathing New Atheist type atheists.

In this chapter I can see where Woodson sees a great value in the Black Church because, “the Negro church is the only institution the race controls.” Once again he is annoyed at the educated African Americans (when isn’t he?) who leave the Negro church for more “ritualistic” denominations. Those being Catholic and Episcopal churches. Me: Guilty as charged. Mainly because Black people church is too damned long.

Woodson mentions he once visited ” in Washington, D. C., one of the popular Negro churches with a membership of several thousands“. I wonder was it maybe Shiloh Baptist? I mean he wouldn’t have to cross the street to pop in. Anyway, at this unnamed Black church he could only spot two college graduates in attendance, and they were only there to get something (fund raising and charity).

I can read Woodson’s frustration with the Black church. “The Negro church, however, although not a shadow of what it ought to be, is the great asset of the race.” He sees the church’s potential as an organizing body and how it could serve the Black race (theology shmeology), but can’t ignore the hypocrisy, charlatan preachers, and other human failings and shortcomings that come along with the Black church and church in general.

Let’s ignore Woodson’s lack of adherence to any faith and get to the topic of the book and this chapter, criticizing college educated Black people. Black church was where the Black masses were. It was the most powerful institution controlled by African Americans. Where were the “mis-educated” educated Afro-Americans, not in the Black Baptist and Black Methodist churches. A theme throughout The Mis-Education of the Negro is that the college educated Black people lose contact and are out of touch with the common Black person.

Woodson pointed out that the problem with the Catholic and Episcopalian churches was that a Black man’s rise in those denominations was limited. This problem has been since rectified. The current presiding Archbishop of the Episcopal church is an African American man, Michael Curry. And the current Archbishop of Washington, DC, Cardinal Wilton Gregory (the 1st Black American cardinal) heads the Roman Catholic diocese. There has been some advancement for African Americans since Woodson published his book.

Carter G. Woodson- Mis-Education of the Negro- Chapter 5: The Failure to Learn to Make a Living part 2

It’s Black History Month, so I am continuing with the series of posts regarding Shaw resident and Father of Black History, Carter G. Woodson and his book The Mis-Education of the Negro, published in 1933.

Continuing from part 1, which was covering the first of two themes I pulled from this chapter. The second theme was that college educated were a drag on Black businesses.

Woodson presents us with this scene:

Recently the author saw the need for a change of attitude when a young woman came almost directly to his office after her graduation from a business school to seek employment. After hearing her story he finally told her that he would give her a trial at fifteen dollars a week.

“Fifteen dollars a week!” she cried, “I cannot live on that, sir.”

“I do not see why you cannot,” he replied. “You have lived for some time already, and you say that you have never had permanent employment, and you have none at all now.”

“But a woman has to dress and to pay board,” said she; “and how can she do it on such a pittance?”

The amount offered was small, but it was a great deal more than she is worth at present. In fact, during the first six or nine months of her connection with some enterprise it will be of more service to her than she will be to the firm. Coming out of school without experience, she will be a drag on a business until she learns to discharge some definite function in it. Instead of requiring the firm to pay her she should pay it for training her. Negro business today, then, finds the “mis-educated employees” its heaviest burden. Thousands of graduates of white business schools spend years in establishments in undergoing apprenticeship without pay and rejoice to have the opportunity thus to learn how to do things.

I’m not sure if HBCUs were offering valuable internship programs at the time. Education is great, but from my own experience, internship programs provide some thin proof the student knows how to do real work. Woodson mentions an unfortunate job program for HBCU graduates.

Not long ago a firm of Washington, D. C., appealed to the graduates of several of our colleges and offered them an inviting proposition on the commission basis, but only five of the hundreds appealed to responded and only two of the five gave satisfaction. Another would have succeeded, but he was not honest in handling money because he had learned to purloin the treasury of the athletic organization while in college. All of the others, however, were anxious to serve somewhere in an office for a small wage a week.

Continue reading Carter G. Woodson- Mis-Education of the Negro- Chapter 5: The Failure to Learn to Make a Living part 2

Carter G. Woodson- Mis-Education of the Negro- Chapter 1: The Seat of Trouble

This is a series regarding Shaw resident Carter G. Woodson’s book The Mis-Education of the Negro.

Last year I reviewed this book and I’m updating those posts.

I understand Woodosn was a man of his time and the challenges of what was being taught in the public school system and in Black colleges were real. There are new challenges, but I’m going to ignore them because they make me steaming mad. That challenge then, 100 years ago, was an education system dismissed the Negro (I’m going to use his words) and the African.

“At a Negro summer school two years ago, a white instructor gave a course on the Negro, using for his text a work which teaches that whites are superior to the blacks. When asked by one of the students why he used such a textbook the instructor replied that he wanted them to get that point of view. Even schools for Negroes, then, are places where they must be convinced of their inferiority. “

So that was a problem.

“Practically all of the successful Negroes in this country are of the uneducated type or of that of Negroes who have had no formal education at all. The large majority of the Negroes who have put on the finishing touches of our best colleges are all but worthless in the development of their people.”

It doesn’t really get any better. He pretty much considers the Black college graduate useless.

 “The Negro children, as a rule, come from the homes of tenants and peons who have to migrate annually from plantation to plantation, looking for light which they have never seen. The children from the homes of white planters and merchants live permanently in the midst of calculations, family budgets, and the like, which enable them sometimes to learn more by contact than the Negro can acquire in school. Instead of teaching such Negro children less arithmetic, they should be taught much more of it than the white children, for the latter attend a graded school consolidated by free transportation when the Negroes go to one-room rented hovels to be taught without equipment and by incompetent teachers educated scarcely beyond the eighth grade.”

I have no doubt whatsoever that 100 years ago Black schools lacked equipment. The one room school house or ‘rented hovel’ as Woodson puts it, Continue reading Carter G. Woodson- Mis-Education of the Negro- Chapter 1: The Seat of Trouble

Rando Shaw resident – S. Larnardo Acker- 614 S St NW

I was doing something else and there is nowhere to put this guy. But it is Black history month, and this fellow is Black.

I came across S. Larnardo Acker as I was working on another project and would have moved on, but I was trying to figure out if he was a Larnardo S. Acker and if I had the right person. One of the documents I came across was a marriage certificate and lo, I came across his marriage certificate listing his, and his bride’s (Ms. Bessie L. Hill) address as 614 S St NW.

Currently the New Community Church has 614 S St NW as its address. It might have been an apartment building. They both lived there, maybe they met there, running into each other at the end of the work day, exchanging pleasantries, discovering they both hailed from Mississippi, and a romance blossomed. Or they were shacking up and decided to make it legal. Or they were already married and the first one didn’t stick?

Who was Samuel Larnardo Acker? He was a Sargent in the US Army who served in World War II. He was born May 5, 1909 in Picayune, MS (or Hancock, MS depending which doc you go by). According to the 1910 census he was one of six children. In the 1930 census he was a student attending the Prentiss Normal and Industrial Institute, a Black college which no longer exists. Looking at the census it appears he and a long list of students were living with the school’s founders, Jonas Edward Johnson and Bertha LaBranche Johnson.

In the 1940 census he and his wife Bessy/Bessie (in NY records he married a Bessie Lisker in 1924) lived at 529 Florida Ave NW on the LeDroit Park side of Florida. The lived there with their 9 month old daughter Dorothy. He worked at the Library of Congress, as part of the WPA, as a Research Editor. A year later he worked as a Junior Clerk Typist for the War Department. He and Bessie later had a son, Larnardo Menelik Acker, in 1942. In the 1950s he was mustered into the US Marines (Co C 1St Engr Bn 1St Mar Div, Mri 6 Pearl ), I don’t understand how the military works so….. The Army record I could find makes it look like he was in the typing and secretarial group.

In 1954 the family was living at 1913 Frederick Place SE. But a few years later, in September 1956 Bessie, who was an undergraduate nurse at the Emergency Hospital (where’s that?), died. She is buried at Arlington with Samuel Larnardo, who later died in 1966. Their graves are next to each other.

It’s Black History Month- Thank Shaw’s Own Carter G. Woodson

It’s February so that means it’s Black History Month. I think I will make this an annual thing, where I look at the “Father of Black History” Carter G. Woodson. He picked a week in February for Black History Week, then that week turned into a month and ta-da we are in Black History Month.

Carter Godwin Woodson as a young man

Dr. Carter G. Woodson (PhD, Harvard, 1912) noticed there was a lack of history documenting and telling the story of Black Americans in America. So he saw a problem and then fixed it. Quoting the NPS biography of Dr. Woodson, “The public knew very little about the role of African Americans in American history, and schools were not including African American history in their curriculum. He worked tirelessly throughout his life to remedy this problem, becoming nationally recognized as “the Father of Black History.” ”

Dr. Woodson lived and worked at 1538 9th Street NW, which is in Shaw. This would explain the statue, if you missed it, at 9th and Rhode Island Avenue NW. And the National Park Service historic house.

To celebrate the month I had pondered the idea of looking at his 1912 book The History of the Negro Church, because last year I did a deep dive of his Mis-Education of the Negro. There are some problems. For one the first book I ordered had type so small I could not read it. When I did order a book these older eyes could read, I discovered the book was very boring. I have discovered that The History of the Negro Church is in the public domain (yay), on the Project Gutenberg site and may have the Kindle read it to me. I seriously looked at Fivver for audiobook narrators. On the other hand I could just wait for the next round of DC Humanities grants and have them chip in for an audiobook production of Woodson’s public domain works. Feel free to steal this idea.

Instead this year, I’ll do one chapter or more chapters (not the whole book) of The History of the Negro Church, a second review of Mis-Education, other Dr. Woodson related posts and a Truxton Circle related African American history book that was pretty good. I may do a few WSIC posts and one or two 1930 Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle.